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Chief: Investigation launched to see if York County cop participated in insurrection

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

A number of York County's police chiefs have told The York Dispatch either that their officers weren't in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 for the deadly armed insurrection in which rioters stormed the Capitol Complex, or that they are unaware of any of their officers participating.

On that day, The New York Times reported speaking to an off-duty police officer from York County. The man said he and his wife didn't know what would happen that day but that he "felt ready to participate if something were to erupt," according to the newspaper report, which didn't provide the couple's last names.

"There's a lot of people here willing to take orders," the purported cop was quoted as saying in The New York Times article. "If the orders are given, the people will rise up."

The report has been a much-discussed topic among people in York County — including in law enforcement circles.

A York County police chief has confirmed his department is investigating to determine if one of its officers is the man mentioned in the report.

"We are aware of the NY Times article and are investigating if (a Southern Regional officer) may be the officer described in their story," Southern Regional Police Chief James Boddington said in an email  Tuesday morning.

Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Boddington has not released the officer's name.

It's unclear whether the supposed officer quoted in The New York Times article participated in the storming of the Capitol or committed any crimes.

Boddington on Tuesday did not respond to follow-up questions, including whether the officer has been placed on restrictive duty or administrative leave during the investigation, and what it would mean for his job if information should surface that he participated in the Capitol breach.

Police chiefs respond: Every other police chief in York County contacted by The York Dispatch said either that their officers weren't in Washington that day or that they weren't aware of any of their officers going there.

Northern York County Regional Police Chief Dave Lash said his officers didn't travel to the protest that day and if they had, "we would try to determine what involvement, if any, they had" in the storming of the Capitol.

Northeastern Regional Police Chief Bryan Rizzo said he's unaware of any officers who attended.

"There would be an internal investigation, and that officer would be on administrative leave pending that investigation," Rizzo said.

York City Police Commissioner Michael Muldrow said he determined the purported officer in The New York Times article wasn't "one of mine" and said he doesn't believe any city officers went to Washington on Jan. 6. He said he also doesn't think any city officers would have taken part in the "criminal behavior" that ensued.

'Committed' to being better: "We're not perfect by any means, but the men and women who work here understand (fundamentally) who I am, where they work and the 'expectations' I have, the FOP has, this Department has, City Government has, and the expectations of this community," Muldrow said in a text message. "And despite any differences in ideology, we are ALL committed to serving this community well and being better than we were yesterday."

York Area Regional Police Chief Tim Damon, West Manchester Township Police Chief John Snyder, Spring Garden Township Police Chief George Swartz and Hanover Police Chief Chad Martin said they are unaware of any of their officers participating — and also said they don't have any officers with the same first name as the one that appeared in The New York Times article.

"I do not know of any of our employees at the police department attending such an event," Snyder said in an email. "If any of those facts change, and it's relevant to your inquiry, I will notify you appropriately."

York County Sheriff Rich Keuerleber did not return multiple detailed messages seeking comment about whether any of his deputies or staff members attended the march or participated in the Capitol siege.

A pro-Trump mob gathers in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C. Insurrectionists stormed the Capitol, breaking windows and clashing with police officers. (Jon Cherry/Getty Images/TNS)

Lower Windsor Township Police Chief Dave Arnold also said his department has no one by that first name.

"I’m not aware of any situations down there that occurred with my guys," he said Tuesday.

Fairview Township Police Chief Jason Loper said, "I'm 99.9% sure no one was there" from his department.

Definitely not there: Hellam Township Police Chief Doug Pollock, Newberry Township Police Chief Steve Lutz and West Manheim Township Police Chief Edwin Schneider said none of their officers were in Washington, D.C., that day.

Springettsbury Township Police Chief Todd King, West York Police Chief Matt Millsaps and Penn Township Police Chief Guy Hettinger all said they aren't aware of any of their officers participating in either the march or the subsequent storming of the Capitol.

"If anyone was in attendance and violated the law and/or any policy of the department, it would be handled accordingly," King said.

State police spokesperson Ryan Tarkowski said the Bureau of Professional Responsibility, which is the agency's version of internal affairs, as of Monday hadn't launched any investigations into possible misconduct related to the events of Jan. 6.

York County District Attorney Dave Sunday said he's not aware that any of his staff members — including prosecutors and county detectives — went to D.C. that day.

Capitol police officers in riot gear push back demonstrators who try to break a door of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Would cooperate: He declined to give his opinion of the day's events, saying it would be inappropriate for him to weigh in about active investigations, even ones outside his office, "especially considering the width and breadth of this (national) investigation."

"First and foremost, all law enforcement is collaborating on identifying individuals who committed crimes in Washington, D.C.," Sunday told The York Dispatch. "It's an ongoing investigation, really, throughout the entire country."

Sunday said he cannot comment about whether his office is assisting state or federal investigators but noted that generally speaking, his office never refuses to help when asked.

"We would always work with our partners," he said. "We cooperate with the (state) Attorney General's Office and our federal partners and our colleagues in other jurisdictions on any criminal matter that comes before us. Period."

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.